Homeownership’s value overrides divisiveness

Posted by at 1:06 pm

With some pretty big issues on the table for Congress in 2018, America may seem more politically divided than ever these days. But one shared value stretches across the nation—homeownership. There may be difference of opinion on things like healthcare, immigration and tax reform, but a strong majority of Americans agree home ownership is a financially sound decision –  an instrument for gaining long-term wealth while raising a family and making ties within the community. According to real estate website Zillow, 68.7 percent of Republicans and 65.1 percent of Democrats see homeownership as a crucial part of living the American Dream. Homeownership builds equity over time, providing financial security for families and individuals. With stable monthly payments, it’s easier for cash-conscious consumers to plan and budget. Potential tax savings can also offset homeownership costs. But the real “value” comes in...
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Seniors no longer a niche market

Posted by at 1:17 pm

Fueled by the baby-boomer generation, the population of Americans 65 and older is growing exponentially, and will become a major part of the housing and mortgage industries over the next several decades. According to the latest report from the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies, one out of three U.S. households in 2035 will be headed by someone over 65. That’s an estimated 79 million people! Real estate agents and mortgage lenders who plan sales strategies with an eye on the aging will doubtlessly see more success. One unexpected backlash of the exodus to the suburbs over the last 40 years is the growing number of retirees realizing their neighborhoods no longer fit their needs. In a recent survey from Freddie Mac, seniors said they need major renovations in order to stay in their current homes as they age –...
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October 19th, 2017

Parks Enhance Urban Framework

Posted by at 9:59 am

Parks play increasingly important roles in the modern urban landscape. As America upgrades and expands its roads, sewers, and utilities, it needs also to improve green infrastructure; the ecological framework needed for environmental and economic sustainability. By planning and managing urban parks in concert with other development, cities can reduce flood control and storm water management costs, protect biological diversity, provide recreation and increase civic engagement. Appealing to humans’ intuitive love of nature and open space, a well-designed park improves the public health and brings together people of all ages and cultures. Best of all, it’s free to visit anytime. New homebuyers regularly rate access to parks among the Top 10 most important considerations in their decision-making process. Mostly funded by property taxes, parks generally do well in local bond and levy elections. In the old days, green space simply had...
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A flood of insurance

Posted by at 10:28 am

Following the record damages from hurricanes Irma and Harvey, insurers are sounding the alarm bells – development across the country has turned many areas into potential flood zones.   It’s not entirely surprising. While areas like Coastal Florida require all homeowners to have flood insurance because of the high risk, most U.S. homeowners don’t live in areas prone to heavy flooding – or so they thought. Residential development eats up absorbent grasslands in and around cities, and also leads to the addition of more non-porous structures like roads and foundations, which can block the natural flow of stormwater runoff. Unless you live on a hilltop, insurers recommend at least some flood insurance. Administered by the federal National Flood Insurance Program and available through many insurances agencies, a flood policy costs about $500 a year for $250,000 of coverage. For a lot of families, an extra $500...
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Don’t let clogged drains stop you

Posted by at 4:25 pm

Many homeowners just assume they cannot do any sort of plumbing on their own. The term “plumbing” can be somewhat intimidating – but it literally means moving water from place to place. Clogged drains, then, are plumbing’s natural enemy. Stuck drains, like most plumbing problems, can be prevented through proper use and regular maintenance. Don’t let clogged drains stop you. Hard water – water with high mineral content – can leave deposits to clog pipes over time. Consider installing a traditional sulfur softener. These units require cutting the pipe, so it’s probably best to hire a professional plumber for this one. It will avoid a lot more visits from a pro in the future. You can also install a do-it-yourself unit that breaks up deposits from outside the pipe with electronic pulses, but will need a nearby outlet or a...
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Plan for a smooth move

Posted by at 2:30 pm

You’ve signed the closing docs, and the deal is done. Now it’s time for the big move. With or without movers, pacing and planning are the keys to a safe and successful transition. It begins What about the days before the move? You might want to consider deep cleaning the new house. The walls, floors, counters and baseboards will never be this exposed again. Run a load or two through the dishwasher and washing machine. Dust high sills and don’t forget the refrigerator. A bug bomb is a good idea. Even if you can’t see them, they might be there. You can accomplish this only one time and still have time to clear any noxious fumes before children or pets show up. Plan ahead If you always have a “moving plan” in the back of your mind, it can lessen the...
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June 15th, 2017

Universal appeal

Posted by at 1:16 pm

Everyone likes the idea of building a home exactly to specifications – often without thinking of the future – and future buyers. Here’s the news. The house is probably going to outlast you. And most people don’t end up living in the same home forever. Unless you pan to retire (and die) in your current home, a universal approach to remodels and maintenance makes good fiscal sense. The old concept of universal design was synonymous with “senior accessible” or “handicapped friendly.” And it is all of that. But it can be so much more. It’s about thinking ahead, considering angles. Seeing problems with access and usage before they happen. How many folks do you know who moved into homes without taking time to consider clearances, heights and angles? Big plans for furnishings, add-ons and creature comforts can be spoiled by narrow doorways or...
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Self-Managed Homeowners Associations

Posted by at 2:32 pm

With the skyrocketing price of homes today, many homeowner association neighborhoods are looking to save where they can. Some have found they can maintain desired aesthetic standards at a lower cost with self-management, where neighbors agree to share administrative duties instead of paying a professional management company. This can mean a huge savings for the growing number of HOA communities. HOAs maintain standards for landscaping and cleaning of common areas, and enforce rules for upkeep on the membership’s homes. HOAs often protect property values by not allowing neighborhood problems to fester. Majority Rules Some self-managed HOAs are governed strictly by the majority rule. In America, the one-voice, one-vote concept is quite popular, especially considering some recent election results! In such “pure” democracies, community spirit is often enhanced. In an increasingly stratified society where folks often just stay in their own homes...
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A gift horse: The home seller’s curse

Posted by at 4:32 pm

So, you put your home up for sale, with a listing price based on local comparables. As luck would have it, a buyer comes along within days – maybe even hours – and meets that price. Heck, maybe they even throw in an extra 2 or 3 percent for good measure. This is probably one of those times referred to in the phrase: “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.” But sometimes, when everything goes right, we have trouble accepting it. It’s a curse The “curse of the first offer” is well-known to real estate agents who have been around for a while. The seller’s reaction to an early offer? Almost inevitable: “Maybe we should wait and see if we can get more.” Today’s seller is probably right about one thing: There will be other offers. In marketplaces around...
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Homeownership: A savings lifeline

Posted by at 12:30 pm

With home prices rising to all-time highs, many potential buyers may imagine drowning in a sea of monthly payments stretching across many years. Naysayers bob to the surface with harrowing tales of home-buying gone wrong. If the down payment doesn’t get you – well the property taxes, maintenance and insurance surely will! These so-called “savvy” investors say renters who dutifully put all money not spent on housing into stable investments – like mutual funds – may get a greater rate of return. Criticism of homeownership as an instrument of wealth-building has understandably become louder in the last decade, after a Housing Bust that put more than 10 million homeowners upside-down, and 4 million more into foreclosure. Though most underwater homeowners have swum back into positive equity, and many of those foreclosures are mortgage-eligible again, the math geeks remain in a...
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